Foodies Festival has Edinburgh licked

FOOD is big business. And no-one knows that more than Sue Hitchen, founder of the UK’s largest celebration of food and drink.

Lois Collins from S Luca of Musselburgh. Picture: Colin Hattersley

Foodies Festival is returning to the Capital next month for its tenth year – and is doubling the size of the popular event in Inverleith Park.

It started out a relatively small affair, attracting 5000 visitors, but organisers are expecting around 35,000 to attend this year’s event, which takes place over three days.

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The special anniversary has led to an increase in exhibitors and on-site entertainment, masterclasses and tasting sessions.

Everything from champagne tasting to chilli-eating contests will take place, with top local chefs also on hand to share their expertise and cook their favourite summer recipes.

“We realised last year that we needed more space so Inverleith Park have allowed us to use even more of the park this year,” explains Sue. “We are doubling the size of the producers’ market and encouraging more artisan producers into the show.

“That’s a really important element of the festival because we really want to meet the producers and give the public the opportunity to eat new foods.

“There will be 60 artisan market stalls in addition to the other exhibitors. There are around 300 stall holders, making it our biggest event ever.”

Sue adds: “A new tasting theatre is going to encompass a different approach, not just to food but growing your own veg, beekeeping, oyster-shucking, growing herbs and cocktail-making.

“There’s lots of interesting types of foods and different combinations working well together.”

The tasting theatre – which also features sushi rolling and sausage making – is one of a number of highlights of this year’s event.

The new wine and champagne theatre will see experts Neil Phillips and Charles Metcalfe guide visitors through this season’s best bubblies from around the world, while beer expert Melissa Cole will be on hand in the craft beer theatre with food and beer pairing masterclasses.

The street food avenue is designed to be a “feasting hub” at the heart of the festival, which takes visitors on a flavour adventure around the world. Japanese, Thai, Brazilian, Argentinian, Indian, Mexican, French and African are just some of the cuisines visitors can tuck into at communal tables in the feasting tent.

The cake and bake theatre will feature Scotland’s top cake makers and patissiers sharing their tips for baking delicious summer cakes. Visitors can enjoy 3D cake modelling, chocolate-making and sugar craft masterclasses and a cake and bake village will sell bakes, jams, and the latest baking gadgets.

At the artisan producers’ market, everything from award-winning salted caramel cheese to pink raspberry gin will be on sale.

Spice lovers will be flocking to the chilli market where UK-grown chillies and spicy sauces will be available to taste and buy. And for those brave enough, the chilli-eating competition challenges contestants to try and break the current record of 16 million Scoville eaten to win the chilli eating crown.

For the little ones, the children’s cookery theatre will allow them to explore their taste buds and learn basic cooking skills in Picnic in the Park themed masterclasses with Kiddy Cook, who will show them how to make finger sandwiches, fruit jellies and chocolate bugs.

A new spaghetti eating competition will invite pairs of contestants – friends and strangers –to race from either end of a four-metre spaghetti to be crowned “Lady and her Champ”.

Visitors will also be able to relax with a glass of bubbly or refreshing cocktail from the giant Pimm’s teapot whilst watching bands perform on the entertainment stage.

Foodies nowruns ten summer festivals across the UK, as well as three winter festivals – including one of which takes placein Edinburgh.

Sue says: “Edinburgh was our first event and it’s always been our busiest and most successful. Scottish people embrace the whole Foodies culture and enjoy experiencing food and drink in a fun atmosphere where the whole family can get involved. This is a big year for us.”

Foodies Festival takes place on August 7, 8 and -9.

Wines from Rioja is giving away two free pairs of tickets for Foodies Festival.

o enter, answer the following question: Name one of the main grapes used in the production of Rioja and e-mail [email protected]